Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Barnton to Winsford

Thu 9th June  Barnton to Northwich

James took a walk back to visit the Co-op in Barnton, which is further than Nicholson suggests. He came back with the required milk.

We moved on past the Anderton Lift to the facilities to dispose of cassettes and rubbish and fill up with water.  Then back to the waiting pontoon to go down the lift.  We discovered there was a 4 hour wait until 3.45pm, so we booked our return journey for Monday at 3pm, in case there was a similar wait on the return journey. £5 for peace of mind. We reversed to find a mooring for a few hours, where we had to set an alarm in case we dozed off.

We returned to the lift as planned at 3.15pm for our 3.45pm lift.  We found we were paired with Tamarind.  This was our second trip on the lift, and it still seems to descend a little jerkily, although not as bad as we remembered from last time.  Saturn the historic Shroppie fly boat was moored at the foot of the lift.

Approaching the holding moorings

Into the lift

The view from the top

Pairing up with Tamarind

 Looking down on Saturn

Raising the guillotine

We had decided to moor for two nights in Northwich, where we wanted to be for the Friday Folk Club, as it was forecast wet on Friday and we didn’t want to be boating then.

A view of the lift from the Weaver

A bit wider than the Trent and Mersey

We cruised upstream in company with Tamarind, and we decided to moor just below the sanitary station, where there were bushes for Hugo. Tamarind went further on.

It was very noisy from works going on across the river. It was also a very high bank – not easy to get off and on. When we realised there were better moorings upstream past the bridge, we called Hugo back on board and moved further up.  Just as we were tying up we heard a shout from the marina opposite: “You can’t moor there!”   Thankfully it was Don, who invited us for a chat on board Tumzul Cloud the next day.

The path between the two swing bridges now has no exit at the upstream (south) end, so the only people who tend to walk this way are boaters.  Hugo managed to find his way under a barrier into some long grass, so he was happy.

0 locks, 3 miles, 1 boat lift

Fri 10th June  Northwich

Moored in Northwich

We crossed the swing bridge and walked round to see Don and Celia, who have been moored here all winter and haven’t moved off yet. It was good to catch up with them. We had forgotten that they were here, otherwise we might have come down the lift a day or two earlier.

Hazel Don and Celia by Tumzul Cloud

Then we went for lunch in a cafe with shopping at Sainsbury’s to follow.  There were heavy showers.

From the other side of the river we noticed that Cleddau, last seen at Dutton Hollow, had moored several boat lengths upstream from us. By the time we returned to our boat it was raining again, so we didn’t go to say hello.

We had a bit of trouble with the internet later, with the mifi indicating a strong signal, but the wireless facilities not picking it up.

We went to Northwich Folk Club, which was meeting in the Polish centre because the usual theatre venue was unavailable.  They were a friendly bunch with a cross section of styles and talents.  Several unaccompanied singers and a poet, a few guitarists and a squeeze box.  It was good fun.  We sang “Flowers never bend”, “Long Way Down”, “Antiques” and “Low Bridge”.

We were given a lift back towards the boat.

No boating today

Sat 11th June  Northwich to Vale Royal

We set off after a leisurely breakfast, and said farewell to Don and Celia on Tumzul Cloud as we passed them.  We noticed that Cleddau had gone.

Tumzul Cloud moored in Northwich

There are two swing bridges in Northwich, built in 1898-99, and they were the first electrically operated road swing bridges in the world. They are still in working order, although they aren’t used very often now. Most of the boats on the Weaver can pass underneath.

Town Swingbridge

Hayhurst Swingbridge

Hunt’s Lock

It was only half a mile to Hunts Lock, where we noticed that some pleasant visitor moorings had been made available.  When we here before the area was covered in undergrowth.  Hunts lock was operated by CRT staff who were very helpful and informative.  They took our centre rope and tied it to a bollard, but it wasn’t necessary as the lock filled from the side, pushing the boat against the lock side so we didn’t surge around. They must be very health and safety minded, because they put a barrier across the lock gates before they opened them.

About to leave the lock

Just after we left the lock we passed Jalsea Marine, where had gained our certificate of seaworthiness for the Manchester Ship Canal last time.  We felt a few drops of rain, and put up the canopy at the back. Within a minute or two we had a torrential downpour.  Rowers  and walkers were sheltering under a road bridge.

Heavy rain

Thankfully it had stopped by the time we reached Vale Royal Locks.  We used the smaller one on the right this time. The one on the left, which we used last time, has an unusual turbo assisted gate mechanism, whereby the flow of water from the upper to the lower level is used to turn a wheel which opens the lower gates.

We stopped on the delightful visitor moorings half a mile above the lock.  We could not hear any traffic, trains, or factories, and we couldn’t see any houses.  Just a wooded valley, with a meadow opposite, and water birds sitting on some planks at the start of the weir stream.

Vale Royal moorings

Checking to see if it’s safe

Last time we were here in 2009 we got to know Simon and Pat on Paris, and consumed some wine with them. They now live on a boat called Daedalus and overwintered with us in Aylesbury.

Thankfully there was a decent internet signal, so we brought the blog up to date.

There was a flock of Canada Geese later in the evening, with young of different ages, all together in a kindergarten, swimming slowly upstream in an evening mist.  They took an interest in Hugo, but he wisely cleared off.

Geese interested in Hugo

2 locks, 3 miles

Sun 12th June  Vale Royal to Winsford and back

Misty morning at Vale Royal

We had a wonderful peaceful night. We met some people from the next boat: Gordon and Nicky from Chloe. They are involved in a church in Manchester, and they were interested in the work of Boaters Christian Fellowship and Canal Ministries, so we gave them the appropriate leaflets.  They also told us about a new visitor mooring in Winsford, which was useful information for us as we had not heard about it.

We headed further upstream, under Newbridge Swing Bridge and past the mountains of rock salt, destined for council stores all over the country for use on our winter roads.

Upstream to Newbridge Swing Bridge

Rock salt works

 Big piles of rock salt

The CRT mooring near the Red Lion was only big enough for two boats. There was one there already, and the deck was at an angle and very slimy, so we decided to move on to the new council mooring we had heard about.  This at the end of the narrow section, just as the river widens into the flash. It is an old dock that has been refurbished, with new mooring rings.

We tied up there, and walked up the hill to find the Storehouse Church.  We had a warm welome, were given hot drinks, and sank into a comfortable settee.  There was very much a family atmosphere and we had the impression of strong relationships within the church. The worship was led by Gary, the pastor, on a keyboard, accompanied by a lady on guitar and vocals, plus another lady with a cello, which really enhanced the sound. A young couple who had just been married in Poland took their vows again in English, which was a great excuse for celebration. The talk was about the early church described in Acts, and preaching Christ crucified.

Appropriate message

 Ideas for a leaflet dispenser

Storehouse Church before the service

Worship team

After the service we were invited to share in sandwiches and wedding cake, which we did before going to Aldi and then returning to the boat. 

New moorings in Winsford

Winsford Flash

We avoided the temptation to explore Winsford Flash, which apparently is shallow, and set off back downstream to Vale Royal moorings for a second night. 

Approaching Vale Royal moorings

Rain came later and Hugo came in a few times soaking wet, but then went out again. He probably doesn’t feel the rain through his thick fur.

We had no TV signal, so we watched David Attenborough on a DVD about the wildlife of the Galapagos.

0 locks, 5 miles

Next: Back up the Anderton Lift and heading south towards Middlewich


  1. Hello,
    Sorry we were so close (at Northwich)but didn't manage to chat again. In fact we moored there only briefly on Friday morning after an overnight mooring at Vale Royal. We needed a quick shopping top-up as we were booked on the Anderton Lift for Saturday morning. I am intrigued that you moored at Winsford: the Vale Royal lock keeper gave us dire warnings about it being beyond C&RT waters and that it was silted up - and another boat crew we met had got stuck in the basin there!
    We turned back onto the Macclesfield Canal today and should be tied up at home moorings by Saturday...
    Sue /Boatwif / nb Cleddau

    1. You move around a bit faster than we do it seems. All those Cheshire Locks! We are now at Bramble Cuttings, going into Middlewich for the Folk Festival tomorrow.
      The mooring at Winsford we treated with respect as there is no flow through there. We didn't go in any further than necessary. Our draft is 28 inches. We went out on the Flash in our previous boat but this one is deeper drafted so we didn't venture there this time.
      Best wishes
      James nb Gabriel


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